U.S. Informed Russia They Will Not Rejoin Arms Control Pact

"056-P20210312AS-2907" (United States government work) by The White House

On Thursday, the Biden administration apprised Russia of its rejection to join the key arms control pact. This administration claimed information was disseminated, despite the ongoing preparations of the two countries for the summit next month. 

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman informed the Russian government that the Biden administration decided not to rejoin the Open Skies Treaty. She said treaty enables surveillance flights to hover over military facilities in both U.S. and China before former President Trump withdrew from the agreement. 

“Under Secretary Sherman Addresses Reporters in Kyiv, Ukraine” (United States government work) by U.S. Department of State

Open Skies Treaty was meant to build trust between U.S. and Russia

The Open Skies Treaty is meant to build “trust” between the U.S. and Russia. This trust was built by allowing the countries to conduct surveillance flights over their military territories to gather information about their military forces and activities.

The decision made not to rejoin would mean that there remains only one control treaty between the U.S. and Russia, the New START treaty, the Biden administration extended for five years. This move, however, initiated a review into Trump’s withdrawal in the Open Skies Treaty.

Officials stated that the review had been completed and the Deputy Secretary of State had already notified Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov of the U.S.’ decision not to rejoin the 1992 Open Skies Treaty. 

Then, later on, the State Department announced its decision saying that the U.S. “regrets” that Russia’s violations had impaired the Open Skies Treaty.

State Department officials added that the U.S. would therefore decide not to rejoin due to Russia’s failure to exercise efforts to return the agreement. They also added that the behavior of Russia, including the actions it directed towards Ukraine, does not evoke the character of a partner that is “committed to confidence-building.”

The announcement made by the U.S. State Department arrives ahead of the meeting between Biden and Putin on June 16, in Geneva, Switzerland. Said meeting would try to have the two leaders arrive at a common ground amidst the deteriorating ties between the two countries. According to reports, the current relationship with U.S. and Russia at present is at its “lowest points” in decades. 

Biden’s decision not to rejoin the treaty runs counter to what he previously promote.

This decision made by the administration not to rejoin in the pact runs counter to what Biden promotes during the presidential campaign. It can be noted that Biden previously criticized Trump for his withdrawal from this pact, saying that the decision was “short-sighted. 

As a senator, Biden supported the treaty and was extremely critical of Trump’s decision to withdraw from it. 

In May 2020, then-candidate Biden said that Trump had increased his “short-sighted” policy of “abandoning American leadership” as Trump announced his intent to withdraw from the pact.